Did the church actually teach this (about Mary)?

I was looking for various articles on how the reformers
viewed Mary, and I came across this article in Christianity Today.

christianitytoday.com/ct/2003/012/1.34.html

In some respects, considering the source, I thought it was
somewhat balanced. But I’m confused a little about this part:

Handmaiden of Faith
Contemporary Protestants are wise to listen to both the Reformers’ critique of Marian piety and their praise of Mary, the handmaiden of the Lord. Luther and all the Reformers strongly protested against the “abominable idolatry” of medieval Mariology. This is not too strong a term for some of the beliefs that prevailed at that time. For example, Mary was often portrayed as placating her stern son with milk from her breasts. This was one reason why Mary’s milk, supposedly preserved in reliquaries throughout Europe, was so highly valued.

Mary was seen as the one who intervened with Christ on behalf of sinners—she was a mediator with the Mediator. In this vein, various texts of Scripture were rewritten with a Marian slant: 1 Corinthians 15:22 became, “as in Eve all die, so also in Mary shall all be made alive.” And John 3:16 was rendered: “Mary so loved the world … that she gave her only-begotten son for the salvation of the world.” And, anticipating feminist liturgies half a millennium later, the Lord’s Prayer began: “Our Mother who art in heaven, give us our daily bread.”

This kind of exaggerated devotion, the Reformers held, does not praise the virgin mother of God but in fact slanders her by making her into an idol. Nowhere is the Protestant reaction to Marian excess more cogently put than in Philipp Melanchthon’s “Apology of the Augsburg Confession” (1530):

Some of us have seen a certain monastic theologian … urge this prayer upon a dying man, “Mother of grace, protect us from the enemy and receive us in the hour of death.” Granted that blessed Mary prays for the church, does she receive souls in death, does she overcome death, does she give life? What does Christ do if Mary does all this? . … The fact of the matter is that in popular estimation the blessed virgin has replaced Christ. People have invoked her, trusted in her mercy, and sought to appease Christ as though he were not a propitiator but only a terrible judge and avenger.

Did the church actually teach this, or where there just some
who went over the top? I know that the church now emphasizes
the fact that Mary’s role is only to point us to her son, and
Catholics neither pray, nor give adoration, the way they do
only to God, but I was just wondering if this a part of history,
that is being revised, and if so, would that be an argument against
the Magisterium?

(Please note, I am not in the slightest asking this to be polemical,
but as someone who is earnestly seeking truth, and probably as a
result, seem to be always involved with my Protestant brethren in
conversations that concern the misrepresentation of Catholic views and positions, I’d hate for this to be something that they could point to. If someone has some knowledge on this to put it
into perspective, I’d appreciate it.)
In Christ,
Jeff

Hi Jeff!

First, let me says that though I have a great deal of respect for Christianity Today, (since they DID help expose Jack Chick.), they are not a Catholic publication and I would not take just their word about my faith on anything w/o some serious checking, so i’m really glad you posted this here where real Catholics can give you some kind of answers.

As for that particular time in history, I can assure you that that was NEVER and WILL NEVER be Catholic teaching. It’s called Mariolatry and is forbidden under the very first commandment. There may have been some goofy people who pulled something like this, but I have no doubt that their bishops and clergy yanked them up short pdq. I know they would be today.

I notice that you list no religion on your profile so I’m gonna assume that you’re non-Catholic. What got you lookin’ into Catholicism and finding this stuff?

Pax vobiscum,

“Contemporary Protestants are wise to listen to both the Reformers’ critique of Marian piety and their praise of Mary, the handmaiden of the Lord. Luther and all the Reformers strongly protested against the “abominable idolatry” of medieval Mariology. This is not too strong a term for some of the beliefs that prevailed at that time. For example, Mary was often portrayed as placating her stern son with milk from her breasts. This was one reason why Mary’s milk, supposedly preserved in reliquaries throughout Europe, was so highly valued.”

I have heard something along these lines.

“Mary was seen as the one who intervened with Christ on behalf of sinners—she was a mediator with the Mediator. In this vein, various texts of Scripture were rewritten with a Marian slant: 1 Corinthians 15:22 became, “as in Eve all die, so also in Mary shall all be made alive.” And John 3:16 was rendered: “Mary so loved the world … that she gave her only-begotten son for the salvation of the world.” And, anticipating feminist liturgies half a millennium later, the Lord’s Prayer began: “Our Mother who art in heaven, give us our daily bread.””

This lead to the very thing that Protestants charge the Catholic Church with, hunting down and burning bibles with bad and mistranslated passages. The Catholic Church had ONE translation of the Scriptures the Latin Vulgate.

"This kind of exaggerated devotion, the Reformers held, does not praise the virgin mother of God but in fact slanders her by making her into an idol. Nowhere is the Protestant reaction to Marian excess more cogently put than in Philipp Melanchthon’s “Apology of the Augsburg Confession” (1530):

Some of us have seen a certain monastic theologian … urge this prayer upon a dying man, “Mother of grace, protect us from the enemy and receive us in the hour of death.” Granted that blessed Mary prays for the church, does she receive souls in death, does she overcome death, does she give life? What does Christ do if Mary does all this? . … The fact of the matter is that in popular estimation the blessed virgin has replaced Christ. People have invoked her, trusted in her mercy, and sought to appease Christ as though he were not a propitiator but only a terrible judge and avenger."

I do not find anything wrong or misleading in that prayer. I do however find even today many people who do take things to the extreme as may well have been the case in the 1500’s. They do not however represent the teaching of the Church. I have however begun having some trouble remembering back that far!

The person who wrote that article obviously does not understand the teachings of the Church.

Many protestants write about the Catholic Church they know nothing about. Just read what they write on this forum even after being corrected by Catholics.

I have to add to this thread, however, that though I regard myself as a devout Catholic, and though I pray before our church’s Fatima statue every night, during our “stress-relieving walk,” I think that there is still room for improvement in the Catholic Church in the “Mariolatry Department.” Many Catholics – and even this site – maintain that Mary did not give birth to Jesus in the normal bloody, messy fashion. Many Catholic writers, ancient and modern, say things like “Mary did not break water,” “Mary’s reproductive tract remain 100% intact and unbroken,” “there was no blood,” “there was no amniotic fluid release,” “the hymen wasn’t broken,” “there was no afterbirth.”

This site, like some Church writers upset about what the Church has written on this subject, in its posts restricts the Magisterium to its words, refusing to elaborate on how the words could be true, thus depriving them of objective content and avoiding controversy. See forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=7332&highlight=miraculous+birth and forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=239&highlight=miraculous+birth.

Another thing excessively devout Mariologists do is, immediately after they assert that Mary’s reproductive tract and physical evidence of her virginity remained intact *in partu *-- that is, even in the act of giving birth – they criticize you for blasphemously degrading Mary when you ask how this could be true and so functionally make inquiry about the personal region of Mary’s physiology.

In other words, after *they, the radical Mariologists, * imply strange things about the personal region of Mary’s physiology, with words which immediately give rise to strange mental pictures in their listeners about Jesus’ birthing process, they accuse you of blasphemy if you argue to normalize Mary again.

In my opinion, Jesus was born in the normal, bloody, messy fashion: Mary broke water; Mary suffered from terrible labor; Mary bled; Mary gave birth; Mary nursed Jesus.

In my opinion, it was a horrendous, traumatic mess, just like my birth and your birth.

In my opinion, Scripture is clear that this is true. It couldn’t be clearer. All one has to do is read Scripture carefully.

[quote=Malachi4U]The person who wrote that article obviously does not understand the teachings of the Church.
[/quote]

I don’t know that the article said they were Chruch-sanctioned actions. I thought rather, that it gave examples of the errors that people made seemingly on their own accord, which deviated form offcial teaching, but the article was lax (to the degree of irresponsibility) in it did not say where official teaching stood in relation to the practices.

[quote=BibleReader]In my opinion, Jesus was born in the normal, bloody, messy fashion: Mary broke water; Mary suffered from terrible labor; Mary bled; Mary gave birth; Mary nursed Jesus.
[/quote]

I could hardly be considered a “radical Mariologist”, but I would agree with the statements above. Mary was exempt from the stain of original sin (dogma), of which labor pain is one aspect. Thus she was exempt from labor pain.

[quote=BibleReader]In my opinion, Jesus was born in the normal, bloody, messy fashion: Mary broke water; Mary suffered from terrible labor; Mary bled; Mary gave birth; Mary nursed Jesus.
[/quote]

I could hardly be considered a “radical Mariologist”, but I would disagree with the statements above. Mary was exempt from the stain of original sin (dogma), of which labor pain is one aspect. Thus she was exempt from labor pain.

The CA site says this:

“Many [early Church Father] works mention that Mary gave birth to Jesus without pain. But pain in childbearing is part of the penalty of original sin (Gen. 3:16). Thus, Mary could not have been under that penalty.”

This document has an imprimatur. Thus it is probably consistent with Catholic teaching. Mary was free from original sin. Thus she was free of its consequences. Thus she was free of labor pain.

I suppose it could be argued that she was not exempt from these pains without denying the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. So, arguing about it seems pointless.

[quote=John_Henry]The CA site says this:

“Many [early Church Father] works mention that Mary gave birth to Jesus without pain. But pain in childbearing is part of the penalty of original sin (Gen. 3:16). Thus, Mary could not have been under that penalty.”

This document has an imprimatur. Thus it is probably consistent with Catholic teaching. Mary was free from original sin. Thus she was free of its consequences. Thus she was free of labor pain.

I suppose it could be argued that she was not exempt from these pains without denying the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

One of the problems with alleging that Mary did not suffer from labor pains is that doing so violates the plain meaning of Scripture.

The Book of Revelation was apparently written by John the Apostle. If anyone would know what Mary went through, it would be John the Apostle, who took care of Mary after Jesus’ death. The Book of Revelation says

that the woman who bore Christ “wailed aloud in pain” as she labored to give birth…

2 She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. Reveklation 12:2.

Church Bible commentators freely allege that the “woman” of Revelation 12:2-3 is “the Church.” It is actually “mankind in need of salvation,” at the typological level. Who gave commentators permission to ignore the plaintext level?

At the plaintext level, the “woman” is clearly, clearly Mary. Who else gave birth to “the boy who would rule the world with an iron rod”?
[/quote]

that the woman who bore Christ “wailed aloud in pain” as she labored to give birth…

2 She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. Reveklation 12:2.

Church Bible commentators freely allege that the “woman” of Revelation 12:2-3 is “the Church.” It is actually “mankind in need of salvation,” at the typological level. Who gave commentators permission to ignore the plaintext level?

At the plaintext level, the “woman” is clearly, clearly Mary. Who else gave birth to “the boy who would rule the world with an iron rod”?
The “plain meaning” is only plain when you approach it with pre-conceptions. I know there is a Q&A at Jimmy Akin’s site that explains this image on something like 4 different levels. Unfortunately, I can no longer find it, or I would link it. The point of it was that some parts of the image apply to the Church, and some parts apply to Mary.

If one starts with the belief that Mary suffered, then the meaning of this text is “plain”. But if one starts with the belief that, being Immaculately Conceived, she couldn’t suffer, then the meaning of the text is just as “plain”.

Again, though, so long as you don’t deny the Immaculate Conception, I don’t care what you believe about how the birth happened.
[/quote]

You’re right- never thought to fill out that profile thing.
First of all sorry for not responding promptly, but it was not
to ignore you. Mostly due to my scattered and busy schedule.
I am a non-Catholic. As I partially explained in an earlier post,
where I was blowing the cover off a malicious troller, being
familiar with the Way Of The Master/Ray Comfort stuff,
I am a non-denominatiol ‘Protestant’, but no longer Protesting.
I wouldn’t want to tie up thread space with my ‘story’, because
it’s probably not that unusual, and also because my story
is still unfolding. I am also employed full time at my church,
which is a vibrant, growing, start up in a New England community
where such things aren’t known to happen too often.
I’ve only been a Christian since Easter, 1998 (I’ve always
counted my Baptism as my 'birth’date, and couldn’t even remember exactly when I ‘prayed’, never mind how many times I’ve ‘prayed’. Anyways, I guess my journey started in earnest, when after many 'discussions with my boss/Pastor which never
has been a normal discussion, I’d be accused of thinking like
a Catholic. For those who’ve had to take one of those ‘Spiritual Gift Tests’ mine has always been discernment. I’ve never seen in Scripture all the things that a good Protestant was always supposed to see, and I started to explore for myself what Catholics actually thought/taught, and continue to explore today.
Confusing, somewhat, sometimes, especially reading some of the stronger (apparently, at first) arguments by some of the more professional/viscious/good at debating arguments types i.e. James White, and others; but I’m working my way through all these issues. Ironically my wife, who I thought was going to have trouble coming along with me, had been reading materials I’d bought or printed out, and left around with not the total intent of
having her read them, had at first started worrying about me, and even praying to God, and asking Him why was I so concerned with these issues, is now on the same page as I am, praise God!
Anyways we are only still ‘on the journey’, and have to work through some things, especially the fact that our income comes from my being on staff at this church, and she is also a worship leader. Lots to be worked out, but we both know that when God
goes from subtlely nudging, and starts yanking, we will follow wherever He calls. Many issues…I would just ask for prayers
for us.
Always seeking to be in His grip,
Jeff

[quote=Jeff_B]I was looking for various articles on how the reformers
viewed Mary, and I came across this article in Christianity Today.

christianitytoday.com/ct/2003/012/1.34.html

In some respects, considering the source, I thought it was
somewhat balanced.
[/quote]

The folks at CT are generally very balanced and ecumenical and not anti-Catholic except in the sense that any convinced Protestant is anti-Catholic. (I have some reason to defend them, since I regularly write for their affiliate Christian History.)

The stuff about Mary appeasing her Son was definitely part of medieval piety–and not just medieval (see Alphonsus de Liguori’s Glories of Mary). Rightly understood, this did not mean that Christ was not merciful–St. Alphonsus claims that Christ has given Mary the job of administering His mercy, while He acts in His own person as a judge. But I think this is a very distorted idea at best and downright heretical at worst. It was never dogma but it was a very common pious opinion. So far I think George is on solid ground.

The misleading part is the reference to “rewriting Scripture.” I’m absolutely certain that official translations of Scripture and liturgical use of Scripture (including the Lord’s Prayer) were not rewritten. I suspect that what happened was that devotional literature took these Scriptural passages and put Mary’s name in to show that Mary had the same love for us that Christ does. Again, the orthodox point being made is that Mary is a channel through whom the mercy and grace of Christ come to us. But clearly the way this was expressed was very unwise at best.

Final disclaimer: I’m a member of the Episcopal Church currently attending a Methodist church as well as an Episcopal parish (my wife is Methodist). I’m a Ph.D. candidate in the history of the Protestant Reformation. So by all means verify what I’m saying. But I think you will find that some very over-the-top stuff did go on, and you can’t understand Protestant reactions to Catholic piety if you look only at the more moderate and thoughtful expressions of that piety. (That does not justify Protestant over-reaction, I hasten to add.)

Timothy George, BTW, is a Baptist–I believe Southern Baptist (he’s president of a Baptist seminary in Alabama). A very moderate, ecumenical, orthodox Baptist, mind you. I believe he was one of the signers of “Evangelicals and Catholics Together.”

In Christ,

Edwin

[quote=John_Henry]I could hardly be considered a “radical Mariologist”, but I would agree with the statements above. Mary was exempt from the stain of original sin (dogma), of which labor pain is one aspect. Thus she was exempt from labor pain.
[/quote]

Fact is that not all births are severely painful. In any case, the pain is usally soon forgotten. The best thing to say that Mary was a Jewish woman who gave birth to Jesus, the Messiah. The rest is speculation.

[quote=RobbyS]Fact is that not all births are severely painful. In any case, the pain is usally soon forgotten. The best thing to say that Mary was a Jewish woman who gave birth to Jesus, the Messiah. The rest is speculation.
[/quote]

Whether or not she experienced labor pains, there is a good deal more about Mary, if you are Catholic, than that she gave birth to Jesus.

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